Hank Investigates: Rental Car Toll Fees

(WHDH) — Planning a vacation? Listen to this: Your next ride in a rental car could come with some hefty surprise fees. What’s behind these unexpected charges and how can you steer clear of them? Hank Investigates.

James didn’t want to drive his vintage Camaro on an out of town trip from Winchester, so he hit the Mass Pike in a rental car. He returned it and paid the bill in full, he thought.

But two weeks later, James got another charge on his credit card for $29.70.

The bill calls it a toll charge, but really only $4.95 was for an actual toll.

James: “It’s like highway robbery.”

And it’s going to take a toll on you, because most major rental companies are now changing drivers more than just the cost of electronic tolls. They’re charging an additional fee for every day you have the car, whether you go through a toll that day or not.

Julian Kheel, Travel Expert: “Customers get really angry about it, and I think rightfully so.”

And these extra fees are tough to avoid.

Many states, like Massachusetts, only have electronic tolls–so drivers can’t pay with cash.

Kheel: “There’s no way to necessarily get out of it. ”

Jim traveled from San Francisco to Boston.

When he drove his rental car there, he figured he’d avoid the fees by avoiding electronic tolls.  But you can’t pay cash on the Golden Gate Bridge.

Jim: “So I was stuck. I was like oh no.”

And the moment he drove through that unavoidable electronic toll,  he not only got charged the $4.95 extra fee for THAT day, but for ALL five days he rented the car.

Hank: “You paid more in fees than you did in tolls.”

Jim:  “Yes, for automated tolls you have no other choice.”

How bad can it get?

Drive your car on the Pike from exit 26 in Boston all the way to exit one, it’ll cost you $13.55 in tolls.

But rent a car, and that exact same route could cost you as much as $103.55.

Why the extra charges? One company says it’s to cover “costs incurred in processing the toll, paying for the toll, locating you as the driver and invoicing you.”

Kheel: “It’s just not a reasonable fee for the service they’re providing.”

We found lawsuits are now being filed across the country to fight these fees. And some Massachusetts lawmakers think it’s unfair too: There’s now a bill pending on Beacon Hill to limit the toll collection fees car rental companies can charge you.

Massachusetts bills regarding rental car company collection fees:

https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/H3436

https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/S98

Information from MassDOT on using your transponder in rental cars:

https://www.ezdrivema.com/RentalVehicles

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